Palestinian Artwork, Poetry and Music

Sliman Mansour 'Mother and Child'

Who Am I, Without Exile?

by Mahmoud Darwish

Translated by Fady Joudah

A stranger on the riverbank, like the river … water
binds me to your name. Nothing brings me back from my faraway
to my palm tree: not peace and not war. Nothing
makes me enter the gospels. Not
a thing … nothing sparkles from the shore of ebb
and flow between the Euphrates and the Nile. Nothing
makes me descend from the pharaoh’s boats. Nothing
carries me or makes me carry an idea: not longing
and not promise. What will I do? What
will I do without exile, and a long night
that stares at the water?
Water
binds me
to your name …
Nothing takes me from the butterflies of my dreams
to my reality: not dust and not fire. What
will I do without roses from Samarkand? What
will I do in a theater that burnishes the singers with its lunar
stones? Our weight has become light like our houses
in the faraway winds. We have become two friends of the strange
creatures in the clouds … and we are now loosened
from the gravity of identity’s land. What will we do … what
will we do without exile, and a long night
that stares at the water?
Water
binds me
to your name …
There’s nothing left of me but you, and nothing left of you
but me, the stranger massaging his stranger’s thigh: O
stranger! what will we do with what is left to us
of calm … and of a snooze between two myths?
And nothing carries us: not the road and not the house.
Was this road always like this, from the start,
or did our dreams find a mare on the hill
among the Mongol horses and exchange us for it?
And what will we do?
What
will we do
without
exile?

Suheir Hammad ‘First Writing Since’

 

Al-Quds “In Jerusalem”
by Tamim Al-Barghouti


English Translation:
By our lover’s house we passed but we were turned away…
By the enemy’s laws and walls
A blessing it could be for me I said…
When you see it, what do you see?
What you cannot bear is what you see…
When from the side of the road its houses appear…
When every soul sees its lover …
And every absentee surrenders to happiness…
To see him before their meeting is her secret as much as it is his…
Even her happiness does not give her safety…
When old Al-Quds you see once…
When the eye shall see it, where ever it turns the eye shall see it…
In Al-Quds… a cabbage vender from Georgia…
Tiring of his wife… a holiday he plans or his walls he shall paint…
In Al-Quds a Torah and an old man from upper Manhattan did come…
Its codes and rules a Polish kid teaches…
In Al-Quds an Abyssinian policeman closes a road in the market…
A machinegun on a twenty years old settler’s shoulder is carried…
A skullcap greeting the Wailing Wall…
Blond European tourists, Al-Quds they never see…
Photos they take for each other or with a reddish woman vender…
In Al-Quds soldiers with their boots as if over the clouds they creep…
In Al-Quds on the asphalt we prayed…
In Al-Quds. Others are in Al-Quds, except you…

History stirred at me smiling…
To see somebody else or err you thought???
Here they are facing you, they are the writing, and you are the margin …
O son… a veil you thought your visit from city’s face you shall remove…
To see from under it the hard reality of Al-Quds…

In Al-Quds everybody is there except you…
The city’s epoch is two epochs…
A foreign epoch steps in tranquilly, it doesn’t change…
As if in sleep it is walking…
And there is another one, latent and veiled…
Avoiding the foreign it is without sound walking…
Al-Quds knows itself…
Ask any creature, and then all shall indulge you…
With a tongue everything in the city is, when you ask it shall disclose…
In Al-Quds the crescent is like an embryo more vaulting it becomes…
Hunched-like it rests over domes…
Through the years relations developed…
The father’s relations with his children…
In Al-Quds buildings’ stones are citations from the Koran and the Gospels…
In Al-Quds beauty’s identification is octagonal and blue…

A golden dome looking like a curved mirror on top of it…
Synopsized in it you see the sky’s face…
Coddled and brought near…
Distributed like relief bags for the needy under siege…
After the Friday sermon of a people
For help open their hands…
In Al-Quds the sky got mixed with the people, we protect it, it protects us…
On our shoulders we always carry it…
If time aggrieves its moons…
In Al-Quds as if like smoke is the texture of the swarthy marble pillars…
Overtops mosques, churches and windows…
The morning’s hand it holds to show its colored engraving…
He says: “no it is like this”…
She replies: “no like this it is”…
If disagreement lengthy it becomes… they partake…
Because outside the threshold the morning is free…
But to enter if he wants, he has to accept God’s judgment…

In Al-Quds a school there is for a Mamluke* from beyond the river he came…
In an Asfahan slave market they sold him…
To a Baghdadi merchant…
To Aleppo he came, its amir frightened he became of the blueness in his left eye…
To a caravan going to Egypt he was given…
To become years later the Mongol’s defeater and the sultan…

In Al-Quds a smell there is, which establishes Babylon and India in a perfumer’s shop…
By God a language it has, you will understand if you listen…
And it tells me when tear gas bombs they shoot at me: “Don’t worry…”
Defused it gets when the smell of the gas wanes to tell me: “Did you see”…
In Al-Quds contradictions and miracles at ease it becomes and God’s people won’t deny…
As if cloth pieces new and old they check…
Wonders there by the hand are felt…
In Al-Quds an old man’s hand you shake…
Or a building you touch…
A poem or two, you, the son of the noble, on your hand palms you shall find incised…
In Al-Quds in spite of the chain of nakabat (tragedies) a smell of childhood there is in the wind…
The wind of innocence…
In the wind between two bullets, pigeons you shall see flying announcing a state …

In Al-Quds graves arrayed in lines they are, as if lines they are in the city’s history and the book is its soil…
Everybody passed from here…
Al-Quds accepts anybody who visits it whether infidel or believer he is…
In it I pass and its tombstones I read in all the world’s languages…
In it there is African, European, Kafjaks, Syklabs, Bushnaks, Tartars, Turks, and God’s peoples.
The doomed, the poor, landlords, the dissolute, and hermits…
In it there is whoever treaded on the earth…
Do you think it could hardly provide us alone with living???

O you history writer what happened to exclude us alone…
You old man, again reread and rewrite… mistakes you committed…
The eye shuts and opens…
Left wise the yellow car driver turned…
Away from Al-Quds’ gate…
Al-Quds we bypassed…
The eye sees it in the right mirror…
Its colors changed before sunset…
If a smile surprises me…
How it sneaked in between tears I don’t know, she told me when I went far too far…
“You weeper behind the wall… fatuous you are?
Are you mad… Your eye shouldn’t cry, you forgotten one from the book’s text…
You Arab your eye shouldn’t cry… You should know that…
In Al-Quds, all mankind is in Al-Quds but I see nobody in Al-Quds except you…”

Ismail Shammout

Ismail Shammout

 

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